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Serenity : The Shepherd’s Tale

Scott Allie - "Serenity" Comic Books - Newsarama.com Interview

Wednesday 22 December 2010, by Webmaster

The SERENITY Keeps Flying Into the Future With Dark Horse

In the year 2517, humanity is stretched across the galaxy. A civil war which reached across star systems recently concluded, but the bitter feelings between the winners and losers remains as raw as any wound. Amongst these tensions is group of people – renegades, orphans, rejects and the forgotten – who pull together as the crew of a Firefly-class spaceship called Serenity. It was pitched by creator Joss Whedon as as “nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things”.

That’s the story of Serenity, which first burst onto the public’s radars with the TV series Firefly in 2002. Although the TV series was short-lived, intense fan support led to the production of a feature film dubbed Serenity. In the aftermath of the feature film and skyrocketing sales of the TV series’ DVD, long-time comics publisher of all-things Whedon, Dark Horse, went forward with a comic book limited series co-written by Whedon called Serenity: Better Days. Since then, Whedon and others have returned to the crew of the Serenity – most recently with a one-shot called Serenity: Float Out and last month’s graphic novel, Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale.

Partnering those releases with the success of Joss Whedon’s Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 and news of a sequel and separate Angel series in 2011, and Whedon fans will be buying a lot of Dark Horse comics in the new year. But with no other Serenity projects announced, Newsarama turned to editor for both Buffy and Serenity books, Scott Allie, to talk about the series and what’s in store for the crew that can never seem to die.

Newsarama: Over the course of a just a few years, Dark Horse has put out a small flotilla of Serenity comics – with a real kicker of a OGN out last month with Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale. What’s it like spinning this TV series/movie into such a expansive universe?

Scott Allie: It’s really rewarding, is what it is. The books sell incredibly well, and there’s a really diehard, devout, appreciative audience for them. It’s really encouraging to have this built-in audience that cares so much. No fans are as appreciative of Browncoats. And it’s fun getting to know the characters better and better over the years. Working with Zack on the latest stuff, including this short story we’re doing, has been real good. Zack makes the characters come to life in uniquely compelling ways. I hope we get to do more with him.

Nrama: I’m told you work very close to Joss Whedon on this and Buffy, which is Dark Horse’s most popular title. They’ve followed very different paths --- but what’s the future like for Serenity – perhaps an ongoing, or more minis or OGNs?

Allie: It’ll be more standalone pieces, as they come up, as they feel right. I don’t foresee an ongoing for Serenity. I don’t even necessarily see an extended mini, but I’d love it.

Nrama: Is it anything you can talk about now?

Allie: Actually, there’s nothing in the pipeline right now. We’re focused on wrapping up Buffy and getting Season 9 ready to go, and getting Dollhouse going. We’ve really had our hands full, but we want to do more Serenity.

Nrama: In your mind, how does Joss see the Serenity world compared to Buffy?

Allie: It’s complicated. Sometimes I get the impression he feels more fondness for Serenity, and yet he devotes more time to Buffy. I think after all this time, Buffy might be the easiest thing for him to do, whereas with Serenity there’s a lot of joy in the characters themselves. He loves the characters, and he loves the cast, and he has a lot more stories to tell, but I wonder if he’s still holding out hope for another Serenity film, rather than commit to a long-term comics program.

Nrama: Serenity: Float Out sold pretty well for Dark Horse – could you see asking Patton Oswalt back for more?

Allie: We’ve left the door open to him. I loved what he did. It’d be fun to see him spend more time with the main characters, obviously. I think he got the tone of the world just right, and it’d be nice to apply that to the crew of the ship.

Nrama: The recently released Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale has been one of the most eagerly awaited stories in this story world Joss created – it’s the origin of Book. I remember you announcing this way back in 2007 – so can you tell us about the long path it took to get it to print?

Allie: The long path has a lot to do with the amount of attention Buffy has required. We set out on this path to do Season 8, and it was a lot of work, and we had to keep it going. It kept seeming like time was gonna open up for us, but it never happens. So it was a while before he was able to write the outline, which was pretty extensive, and then after that a while to get the right writer. I can’t say I wish we did it sooner, because when you read it, you’re gonna be blown away by Zack Whedon. And Zack wasn’t ready to write comics this well too much earlier. And had we leapt into it earlier, we wouldn’t have gotten Chris Samnee, who was amazing on this book. I just got printed advances today, and if I could have had this book two years earlier but done with different creators, I would not do it.

Nrama: You’ve been quoted as saying that this OGN offers the franchise to “go in a real different direction”. Can you expound on that?

Allie: Well, I think I was talking about Patton’s one-shot, actually. The one-shot was the first post-film story, and while it was a tentative step, mostly looking back, it did open a door to the future, especially with the last page of Zoe. Nothing says future better than that. So I feel like that was the key to doing stories set after the film, but only if Joss wants to, of course.

Nrama: One last question — In addition to editing, you’re also a very frequent writer, even helping out Whedon with these recent issues of Buffy – so let me ask you: what stories would you like to see told in future Serenity comics?

Allie: I used to say I’d never write a Buffy comic, and then I wound up cowriting the end of Season 8. So I should know not to say never. But I don’t see myself as a Serenity writer. If I were to write something, I’d want to do something with Jayne at his absolute most badass, ridiculous. Or something really getting out there with River’s madness, playing with reality through her point of view.